No industry has seen more significant changes in the last few years than retail. As the global pandemic forced several lifestyle changes, so did consumer priorities and preferences as markets began to change. Though initially perceived as fads that would last until the pandemic subsided, several new behaviors emerged as indicators to what retail industry trends to look out for. Particularly, when it came to customer service, sustainability and their overall experience.
Sure, trends like online shopping and 24/7 customer care long existed before the pandemic. But the last two years have seen an uptick in their usage, which led to other factors needing to adapt. These retail industry trends will shape not only 2023, but for several years in the long term.
The Different Retail Trends
According to a 2022 report from Lightspeed, retailers were challenged with higher shopper expectations coupled with rising prices and labor costs. By observing and collecting data on the behaviors of consumers and businesses, you can identify trends and draw insights and conclusions.
The Trends of Online Shopping in the Industry Will Only Ramp Up
Online shopping exploded in popularity during the global pandemic. The volume of online sales made in the last two years is just part of the story. As a result, analysts expect the global ecommerce industry to grow to $8.1 trillion by 2026, up from $5.7 trillion last year. Overall, it showed that online shopping habits, both old and new, are here to stay.
Technology has made it easier than ever to sell online allowing for social commerce to be on the rise. Independent sellers leverage social media to promote their products to an audience. As a result, there are now an estimated 12 to 24 million ecommerce stores globally, with 58.4% of internet users buying online each week.
These indicate that online shopping will continue to grow in both popularity and complexity in the coming years. According to eMarketer, ecommerce websites will make up 22.3% of total retail sales this year alone.
Physical Retail Stores Will Still Have Something To Offer
At the height of the global pandemic, many believed online shopping would become the norm and phase out stores. However, with more of the world opening up, we’re still seeing customers flock to physical retail stores despite the ease of online shopping. When asked, customers say that there is nothing that can replace an in-person interaction and transaction when visiting these stores.
That said, physical stores need to offer something unique. Customers want something different from the in-store shopping experience. Retailers that have both an online and offline presence must ensure that both methods support its customers on the same level. For physical stores, they can offer everything from free samples, fittings to exclusive deals limited to in-store purchases.
While customers certainly love shopping online, physical stores will continue to play an important role in their buying decisions.
The Demand for a Personalized Experience
We’ve previously talked about the importance of customers having unique experiences with retailers. Having a personalized retail customer experience isn’t just a fad that will eventually pass. 72% of shoppers have positively reacted to personalized marketing messages. As new technologies provide customers with more control options, personalization will continue to develop in retail.
While they may seem small in the bigger picture, these incredibly personalized touches can help engage with customers on an emotional level that encourages brand loyalty.
An Omnichannel Presence Remains Essential for the Retail Industry
With all these factors to consider, the importance of an omnichannel presence remains. Today, shoppers use a blend of devices and platforms when making purchasing decisions. Nearly three-quarters of shoppers prefer to shop via multiple channels, and half of all shoppers look at products online before they buy them in store. Thus making it important to have a presence on multiple channels. Whether it’s on your website, social media, or in-person interaction, customers will look for ways to stay engaged with their favorite retailers.
Of course, providing a consistent experience via these platforms and channels is just one thing to consider. Retailers also need good omnichannel CX to engage with shoppers wherever they are. Retailers that invest in omnichannel sales do better because they’re appealing to how shoppers want to buy from them.
Focus on Employee Empowerment
Customers are not the only people retailers should care about. As the old saying goes, when you care for your employees, they will take better care of your customers. Employees that feel motivated and empowered will go above and beyond in making sure customers have the best experience with them. Companies with engaged workers are seen to be 21% more productive with a 41% lower rate of absenteeism.
Regardless of industry, retaining valuable employees is not an easy thing to do. However, through empowerment and developing a work culture that puts them first, they can help companies drive engagement and increase productivity.
Better Sustainability and Social Responsibility
One of the retail industry trends companies should be aware of is sustainability. There has been a larger focus on how retailers encourage sustainability and promote social responsibility over the years. With more people making more conscious decisions, this trend will continue in 2023. According to a consumer report from Shorr, 76% of consumers say they’ve made a conscious effort to purchase more sustainable products. Meanwhile, 86% say they are more likely to purchase from retailers if the packaging is sustainable.
Retailers must make moves to continue improving their sustainability through transparency with green business practices and ethically sourced products. Customers are more likely to support companies invested in their social responsibility practices. Indeed, 55% believe companies should take a stand on key environmental, political and social issues. The modern retail shopper wants to align with brands that share their values.
Preparing for the Years Ahead
Overall, the two major retail industry trends that will remain consistent in 2023 are change and innovation. Online retail is continuing to develop at a rapid pace, while in-person retail will begin to offer unique experiences. The wider use of technology and innovation such as personalized shopping will help lead the change in the industry for years to come. With shifting consumer expectations, retailers need to stay on top of current trends that will dictate further success and recognition.
The future of retail is brighter than ever, but only for those that learn to embrace change. Those that do are continuously reinventing their operations and finding ways to do better and thrive for years to come.